Conversion Hotel 2016 - Keynotes and Learnings

Conversion hotel 2016

For the third time in a row organizes the now famous 48 hour social weekend about online optimization at the Texel island, the Netherlands on 18-20 November of 2016.


Throughout the weekend over 10 keynotes were held by leading experts in the conversion optimization field. Due to reasons - that may or may not include intoxication - some of the valuable information might have slipped your mind. Refresh your memory with the information below.

CRO Maturity (Jeffrey Eisenberg)


Key takeaways:
  • The Eisenberg brothers coined the term Conversion Rate Optimization. Are we now Conversion Optimists? CRO practitioners? CROs?
  • Why doesn’t the CEO care about conversion rates?
  • Happiness = Reality - Expectations
  • If you want to reach a CEO, you’ll have to talk like an architect, not like a mechanic.
  • Conversion optimization checklists almost all talk about quantity and almost never about quality.
  • In a couple of years, much more people will be buying stuff based on voice.
  • Jeffrey considers himself in the business of Customer Experience Optimization.
  • Increase motivation: psychology, remove friction: usability.
  • Conversion Trinity for planning persuasive momentum: relevance, value, CTA).
  • The Dunning-Kruger effect relates to many conversion optimization specialists.
  • The average conversion rate of the top 500 retailers in North America is 3.32%, top 25% is 5.31%, and top 10% is 11.45%. Amazon Prime members convert at a whopping 74%.
  • The question shouldn’t be “Are we keeping up with our competitors” but “Are we keeping up with our customers”.
  • Numbers are the language of business, but you can’t fully quantify humans.
  • Top clue to CRO happiness: “Don’t work for toxic clients”.

Psychology myths debunked (Ben Ambridge)


Key takeaways:
  • Contrary to popular belief, most psychological experiments don’t involve giving people electrical shocks.
  • Only 1/3rd of the most famous published psychological research studies could be replicated.
  • Subliminal messaging studies didn’t replicate, framing in terms of wins and losses did.
  • Complex fonts that were supposedly activating ‘Thinking fast and Slow’ System 2 didn’t replicate, anchoring effects did.
  • Studies on sunken costs and previously made changes did replicate successfully.
  • The website Curate Science keeps tracks of how well studies (can’t) be replicated.
  • Using Bayesian statistics on replicability of studies by Alex Etz.
  • Don’t run test at random, make sure there is a psychologic theory behind it.

Data + Psychology = Growth (André Morys)


Key takeaways:
  • Our mind works like a pattern recognition machine. Sometimes it makes us see patterns that aren’t there.
  • Don’t expect A/B tests working for others, also work for you.
  • The most important aspect of conversion optimization is having a good process.
  • Having a documented optimization process will make your successes more repeatable.
  • Don’t turn your checkout into an exam (like does).
  • Make your visitors feel good on your website, give good news.
  • Find ways to increase your visitors’ motivation, it might get you up to 5x more results than on reducing friction.
  • Spend more money researching what motivaties your visitors.
  • Successful businesses make user goals and business goals match.
  • Ask your clients this: “Why does your company exist?”.
  • Discover what the implicit goals of your customers are. Use A/B tests to validate them.
  • Find cognitive biases and determine how they can help to improve your organization.
  • Most tests fail because people didn’t see what changed.
  • Data doesn’t have ROI if you can use it to produce a stimulus, reach the brain of your customer, and get a reaction from them.
  • Showing how conversion optimization increases Y/Y speaks to the C-suite.
  • Important KPIs: amount of experiments, success rate, average uplift/ROI. Make sure the numbers are credible though.

Morphing websites (Gui Liberali)


Key takeaways:
  • We’re not binary people, we will fit into multiple personality segments at the same time.
  • A losing variation in total might be an optimal variation when properly personalized.
  • Learning true conversion rates require good tools.
  • Hypothesis testing is from 1770, correlations are from 1904, and t-test was created in 1908.
  • Stop testing banners and start testing manners of assigning banners to people.
  • Try using cognitive styles to segment your visitors.
  • By using a multi-armed bandit approach, persuasive profiling can be used to learn what content works best for a particular personality style.
  • Visitors can see the same creative for different reasons.
  • Also consider individual-level data and reports.

Digital Marketing in 2022: Surviving the revolution (Jono Alderson)


Key takeaways:
  • Pineapple digests you faster than you can eat it.
  • You have to understand what top players like Amazon and Apple are doing to successfully persuade your visitors.
  • These brands are aspiring to win a piece of your experience.
  • Hughstreet brands are utilizing more of a personal online assistent approach.
  • Many people will be taken out of the buying cycle, causing CTR and CPA to skyrocket.
  • Invest in Life Time Value (LTV) modeling and focus op consumer data, not only conversion improvement.
  • Amazon wants to own the delivery of everything that fits in a box.
  • Many big platform players will develop ways to offer a marketplace to sellers.
  • Your website will only be one output of your central database and API. Less and less will happen on your website.
  • There will be no more traditional USPs. The best product and services win.
  • Digital marketing will become normal marketing, avoid getting left behind in the old system.
  • People who are good at making baby monitors aren’t necessarily good at keep things secure.
  • Every big tech company is trying to develop a home ‘Hub’, listening in and becoming a router of all your APIs and sensors.
  • Apps will need to market and connect years in advance of the moment of choice.
  • Brands will scramble for loyalty.

6 Ways to Supe Up Your Google Analytics Data (Annie Cushing)


Key takeaways:
  • Google Analytics isn’t really able to handle conversions well.
  • You absolute must, must, tag your campaigns (especially the ‘Medium’ parameter).
  • Her favorite report is the Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.
  • Audit: Check the (Other) item for ‘Medium’ line-by-line.
  • Almost any untagged link from an email, shows up as ‘Direct’.
  • Custom channel examples: paid social, partner, retargeting, affiliate, lead gen, ebook, PDF, presentation, TV.
  • Properly filter your view, e.g. your subdomains.
  • The best social media report in GA is the ‘Social’ dimension in ‘Channels’.
  • If you see the concept of ‘Unique User’ or ‘Unique Visitor’ in a report: total junk.
  • Use the Bot Filtering view setting ‘Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders’.
  • Referral exclusion list is a band-aid if you can’t put the GA snippet on an external website.
  • Pony up for PayPal Professional if you’re using PayPal.
  • If you’re sending visitors to external sites, you must set up cross-domain tracking.

The Philosophy and Ethics of Attention and Persuasion (James Williams)


Key takeaways:
  • Who are you? What are you doing? Where are you going?
  • Point of technology is to help us live our lives in a better way.
  • We tolerate a lot of technology that is actively distracting us.
  • Ethics is fundamentally seen as a constraint.
  • What’s happening? What’s at stake? What can be done?
  • When information becomes abundant, it’s attention that becomes the scarce resource.
  • Are the devices we use every day on our side?
  • What’s needed is an ethics of attentions.
  • There is a fundamental misalignment in the goals that companies have and our own goals.
  • The Netflix CEO announced that their main competitors was sleep.
  • There are 3 types of distraction: functional, existential, epistemic.
  • Printing out a list of cognitive biases won’t stop them from influencing you.
  • If persuasion is the nature of what we do, we should try to adopt a more proper vocabulary.
  • Let’s try to change ‘Time spent’ to ‘Time well spent’.

Storytelling in Design (Anna Dahlström)


Key takeaways:
  • We are as a species addicted to stories
  • If we’ve presented with hard facts, we put our guards up.
  • Every story takes us on a journey and transports us.
  • When something works seamlessly it makes it pleasurable.
  • We don’t know how users are using what we’re designing.
  • Voice will change absolutely how we interact with the web.
  • There’s always a beginning, middle and end to a story.
  • A good story should capture a listeners’ imagination.
  • Allow a user to explore the website on their terms.
  • Not every interaction of the users should have to go through the main navigation.
  • A standard (product) lift-cycle of Awareness, Consideration, Purchase Post-purchase maps out nicely to a story with a beginner, middle and end.
  • Identify where barriers are, learn how to delight your users.
  • Tell the right story to the right person, so get to know your audience.
  • Each device is different, make most of their strengths.
  • Plan for multiple entry and exit points on your website.
  • Don’t expect to delight users on every step of their customer journey.
  • We spend a lot of times learning about our users, but we sometimes forget to make personas for our internal stakeholders and clients.
  • What do we want our users to see, what is the story we want to tell them?
  • Responsive websites all the way, separate mobile sites will die off like sinking ships.

Optimization Wheel (John Ekman)


Key takeaways:
  • Process: what, how, and in what sequence.
  • Most of the frameworks talk only about the ‘what’.
  • Many companies are ‘data focussed’, not ‘data driven’.
  • Change ‘creativity’ with ‘data’ and ‘idea’ with ‘hypothesis’.
  • How can we decide with hypotheses to turn into experiments?
  • Data and hypothesis should work in tandem.
  • How do you know when you have all the right data you need?
  • Replacing the HIPPO with a prioritization framework.
  • The better your hypothesis, the faster you can test.
  • Running A/B tests based on good hypothesis will create compound uplifts.
  • Visitors asks themselves: Am I in the right place (relevance)? Why should I do this, right here and right now (value)? Can I trust them (trust)? What can I do now (action)? How hard will this be (ease)? If I do this now, what if… (assurance)?
  • New funnel definition: explore, evaluate, finish, confirm.

Ten Meters of Thinking (Paul Hughes)


Key takeaways:
  • 3 most important things in business: results, results, results.
  • Conversion Hotel is all about getting better results.
  • Success is not a point, it’s a path.
  • 98% of what we hear, we forget.
  • People making a decision will think, feel and use intuition.
  • First we feel that a decision is right, then we rationalize it.
  • It’s not about what you say, it’s about their feelings.
  • First order learning is change, second order is transformation.
  • Most solutions are offered uniquely, but aren’t unique.
  • From “How do we do this better?” to “How do we do this different?”.
  • Or from “Ready Aim Fire” to “Fire Ready Aim”.
  • Sometimes “Brain storming” feels like “Pain storming”.
  • Don’t mention any pains to the client you can’t solve.
  • We need to enter into the conversation that is already in the mind of our clients.
  • Ask the Formula 1 question: does it make the car go faster?
  • Answers are static, questions are dynamic.
  • What are the questions that you’re asking at the event of this event?
  • How do we create systems that embody relationships?
  • Switch from a transactional to a transformational mindset.

Previous editions

Theo van der Zee

Author: Theo van der Zee

He is the founder of ConversionReview. He has been building and optimizing websites for 15+ years now, and doing so with great success.

On top of his digital skills, Theo is also a trained psychologist and frequent speaker at events around the world.